CROMWELL – Richard Switzer, recently profiled on Entertainment Tonight as the youngest producer in history, knew he was going to work in Hollywood from a very early age. I sat down to talk with Switzer on the set of his Cromwell-set film, Blue Line, starring Tom Sizemore and Jordan Ladd.
The Queens-born producer started shooting short films at age 8, using the cheap, one-time use video cameras from CVS that allowed for 20 minute films.
His first production? A fan-made sequel to Halloween, aptly named Halloween: The Next Generation. The film was shot alongside his cousin, with Switzer playing at least six characters throughout the film. Switzer admitted that, as an 8 year-old, he wasn’t the best at maintaining his costume changes, and the supposed horror flick turned into its own brand of comedy.
When he was 12, Switzer moved to Groton and attended Fitch Senior High School, where, with an intriguing sense of foreshadowing, he became the youngest kid to ever be allowed to take the school’s video production class. He followed that accomplishment with accepting the opportunity to co-teach the film studies class his senior year.
While at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Switzer was able to strike up a connection with veteran actor Eric Roberts. After posting a call-out for screenplays on Craigslist on a whim, and receiving a response from George P. Saunders with A Fatal Obsession, Switzer’s true foray into the industry began. The film, which boasted a majority crew of film and video majors at the School of Visual Arts, was filmed in Mystic, CT and funded out of New York.
Out of necessity, Switzer took the helm on the financing, understanding that most filmmakers do not branch into that realm of the industry. Crediting his communication skills and knack for business, Switzer was able to fully fund this first film, and decided that producing was going to be his Hollywood forte, rather than directing.
In 2013, Switzer Entertainment Group was born, focusing on the distribution, production, budgeting, and packaging of films that Switzer approves. A key factor in Switzer’s success is given to Tyler Konney, Switzer’s best friend and mentor who owns Taylor & Dodge, a corporate development consulting practice turned entertainment agency. Switzer considers Konney both his professional mentor and his life mentor, saying that,
“Everything he’s ever said is right. Everything.” The Manhattan-born Konney, now 28, attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford and has been working with producers on the finance and distribution of feature films since 2007.
With the exception of Buddy Hutchins, starring Jamie Kennedy, which Switzer reached out to directly to offer financing assistance, Switzer and Konney develop their own concepts and then work with their preferred writers to pull the screenplays together.
In the two years since Switzer Entertainment Group’s inception, Switzer and Konney have produced and packaged three feature length films, all starring notable talent such as Eric Roberts, Jamie Kennedy, Nick Swardson, Jason London, and Sally Kirkland, among others. They recently wrapped filming on a fourth feature film, Blue Line, starring Tom Sizemore, filmed entirely in Cromwell, Middletown, and Hartford, CT.
These films, packaged by Taylor & Dodge, which specializes in foreign distribution, do extremely well overseas. In fact, the story of Blue Line was developed by Switzer and Konney after a conversation with German buyers who asked, very simply,
“Do you have Tom Sizemore with a gun?”
Konney immediately called Switzer and the concept was born. Greenwich resident Jacob Cooney was brought on board to both pen the script and direct. Sizemore was relatively easy to get on board as, according to Switzer, “once you have the money, you can talk to agents.” Blue Line, set to be released in early 2016, will most likely have a limited theatrical release, VOD and Redbox service, and a wide distribution in Japan, France, and, of course, Germany, among other countries.
Despite his young age, Switzer’s end game is clear to him. He wants to continue to build his multi-national corporation and leave his mark on the world. While he has no current interest in the small screen, his silver screen preference is for action and big comedies. When he’s ready, he wants to shoot a $10 million budget office comedy, viewed as The Expendables of comedy, hopefully featuring all of the heavy hitters, including Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan.
Residents of CT are encouraged to keep tabs on this burgeoning producer. If his career thus far in the span of his nineteen years is any indication, we can expect great things from Richard Switzer.
He will be back in Connecticut in the late spring to shoot another Sizemore action film, starring Oceana Blue, one of China’s most prominent child actresses.
Below is Richard Switzer’s Entertainment Tonight profile, shot in 2014.